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Engage Millennials - Have Fun at Work


Research over the past two decades has demonstrated what our grandmothers always knew to be true; Laughter really is Good Medicine!

But Fun in the workplace? What has Fun got to do with highly engaged employees, stronger teams, recruitment and retention? With Gallup reporting that 7 out of 10 American employees are disengaged, maybe it's time to look at better ways to get talent connected to their task.

Are We Having Fun Yet?

How often have you heard these kinds of comments at work? "It's all about results. Hey - we're adults here! You've got responsibilities. We've got a job to do here. That report was supposed to be on my desk yesterday!" As the daily stress in most of our lives has mounted in recent years, most people find that their sense of humor abandons them right when they need it the most -- in the midst of stress. The reality is, in life we are busy being the hard-working, responsible, serious adults we were hired to be. And we also happen to be those adults who are dying inside at work.

Changes Are Rumbling

A paradigm shift is occurring and a revolution is stirring in business today. Fun is entering the workplace. Today, the bigger question companies are facing is how can I make work fun to attract and retain top talent? Millennials, 88 percent of them, expect a fun and social work environment, which is what they are accustomed to. Having grown up in an environment that fosters teamwork, most Millennials prefer a sense of unity and collaboration over division and competition. And what's more Millennials will account for 75 percent of our workforce by 2030 according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor & Statistics. And that's why work should be fun.

As Richard Branson, multi-billionaire and business guru who developed one of the most irresistible brands in the world with Virgin said, "Some 80 percent of your life is spent working. You want to have fun at home; why shouldn't you have fun at work?"

Fun as a competitive advantage

Nick Gianoulis is the founder of The Fun Dept., a consulting and training company that has been featured on CNN and in the Washington Post. Its clients range from Fortune 100 companies to those with as few as 50 employees. Known as "The Godfather of Fun," Gianoulis began his company after experiencing firsthand the results of increased fun in the workplace.
Nick observed the enhanced culture and business results of fun during his 20-year corporate tenure with a company that embraced a "work hard, play hard" culture. He is the coauthor of Playing It Forward. Here are some of Nick's comments as he spoke at a 2015 TEDx event in Wilmington, Delaware.

"Have you ever wondered," asks Nick, "how companies like Google, Zappos, Southwest and many others create those amazing workplace cultures with world-class business results at the same time?"

The common denominator, he identifies, that runs through all those companies is a culture of Fun! Sound a little counter-intuitive to think that the words fun and work can exist in the same sentence? It's not only possible to have fun at work, but fun just happens to be the competitive advantage in business today.

What's fun got to do with it?

Everything! You may have found, from experience, that fear is not a good motivator for change. But, fun is. "It just so happens that fun is the positive, motivating force that impacts physical, mental, emotional and spiritual energy vital to overall health, wellbeing, and behavior change," reveals Ralph Lardieri, Fun Dept.'s wellness engagement specialist.

Imagine a world where employees actually look forward to going to work every day, they are happy, productive and engaged. Imagine a world where employers, employees and customers all benefit from fun at work. It's a win-win-win scenario. Think of the benefits of increases in creativity, morale, productivity, retention and recruitment.

And the data is finally in to substantiate these claims. Gallup, Forbes and Harvard Business Review all report that happier fun environments result in:
• 300 percent more innovation
• 125 percent less burn out
• 44 percent more retention
• 51 percent less turn over
• 37 percent increase in sales
• 31 percent increase in productivity

Fun in the workplace is easy

Most organizations will schedule activities into their annual company picnic where employees can get down, let loose and have a little fun. That doesn't count. "Rather, it's the short bursts of fun delivered during working hours, during the course of the year that produce the great business results," said Gianoulis.

Take Zappos for instance. From its inception, the online shoe and clothing shop based in Las Vegas, has incorporated fun into its culture. As a matter of fact, one of founder Tony Hsieh's 10 Core Values is Create Fun and A Little Weirdness. Zappos, fosters employee happiness by encouraging creative and "have fun" work spaces where employees decorate with balloons and streamers when a department's goals are reached or a milestone is passed.

More recently, Zappos designed a new shoe box to inspire customers to "think outside the box." Their new designs include an array of activities and inspiration to repurpose the box in fun ways.

How to Apply this to Your Organization

To get started incorporating fun into your culture, consider online resources such as Snack Nation's, 39 Team Building Activities for Work to find ideas that resonate with your talent's appetite for fun. With a little research, you'll find there are endless resources just a click away for the taking.

A focus on fun is also a great way to engage with your community. Consider hosting a public event like Zappos does for Downtown Vegas. During the 2014 holiday season they opened a Pop-Up Shop to provide customers with a creative shopping experience.

There are countless positive results that come from building fun into your organization. Chief among them is employee happiness. And the happiness of your organization, as a whole, follows closely behind. If you make the journey fun for everyone, you'll create a culture of community, well-being and expansion as you move forward into growth.
Dave Daggett is a Talent Development Consultant. He can be reached at

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